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Wet wipes continue to plague Pirie’s pipes

04-08-2023

Wet wipes continue to plague Pirie’s pipes

Troublesome wet wipes are continuing to make their way into Port Pirie’s sewers, as SA Water crews were called into action over the weekend to remove yet another blockage.

During the past 12 months, local residents’ flushing habits led to the regional centre recording 14 blockages caused by wet wipes – the most across regional South Australia – with the latest incident occurring in Risdon Park South.

SA Water’s Senior Manager of Infrastructure Planning and Strategy Dr Daniel Hoefel said the crews’ five-hour standoff with the blocked wet wipes could have easily been avoided by people making the right choice at the loo.

“Despite our efforts to help curb the unwanted behaviour, we’re still seeing blockages caused by things that shouldn’t have been flushed down the toilet in the first place,” Daniel said.

“Unlike toilet paper, which breaks down in around 30 seconds, wet wipes contain multiple layers of woven fibre and are designed not to disintegrate, causing them to clump together and block the flow of sewage.

“Following reports of slow internal drainage, our crews responded to a potential blockage at a customers’ property connection and discovered a significant clump of wet wipes in the street’s sewer pipe.

“After attempting to remove it, the blocked wet wipes were slightly dislodged and travelled around 40 metres further down the pipe, proving to be a tricky task.

“This is when we called in our reinforcements and deployed our larger truck equipped with a more powerful jet rodder – which uses water at a high pressure to break down material – and carefully cut through the wet wipes to enable them to be vacuumed out of the pipe.

“Based on our crew’s observation, the mass contained hundreds of wet wipes and weighed several kilograms!

“Residents along the street were extremely fortunate not to experience an internal overflow on this occasion, as this blockage could have continued to form and back up into their private pipework if left unattended.

“Luckily, the solution is ever-so simple and all you need to remember is to only flush the three Ps – toilet paper, pee and poo – and put everything else in the bin to help protect your pipes and our sewers.”

Wet wipes remain the leading cause of blockages by unflushables across SA Water’s statewide sewer network, resulting in around 1,200 incidents during 2022-23.

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